In recent days, “nepo baby” has been a major buzzword (or “buzz term,” more accurately) online. Essentially, it refers to celebrities with famous relatives and implies the opportunities for success that they have received are primarily thanks to the fame of their families. (The “nepo” is short for “nepotism.”) Vulture recently ran a thorough, in-depth feature that cataloged most of the nepo babies in American pop culture, but what about music specifically? There’s a pretty sizable list in that industry, too.
(For the purposes of this list, “nepo baby” is not a judgement term and simply refers to musicians whose relative(s) worked in the entertainment industry or were otherwise noteworthy/affluent.)
Indeed, there are some famous nepo babies in the music world. A few that immediately come to mind are Miley Cyrus (daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus), Jaden and Willow Smith (children of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith), Norah Jones (daughter of Ravi Shankar), Robin Thicke (son of Alan Thicke), and Nancy Sinatra (daughter of Frank Sinatra). There are plenty beyond that, though, including some you may not have realized had at least one famous relative. Let’s take a look:
Father: Benzino (rapper, producer, co-founder of The Source)
Leray has been one of the promising rappers of the past few years, plain and simple. In 2021, XXL put her on their esteemed “Freshman” list and she dropped her defining single “No More Parties,” which was her first song to place on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and be certified platinum by the RIAA. She also made some noise this year with Trendsetter, her debut album that included features from Nicki Minaj, HER, Lil Durk, and others. She also appeared on a 2022 cover story for Uproxx. NBD.
Father: Geoff Cottrill (Chief Marketing Officer at Top Golf, previously of P&G, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks)
Through accusations of being an “industry plant,” Clairo has proven that she really does have the musical goods and that she deserves all the acclaim she’s received. Her two albums, 2019’s Immunityand 2021’s Sling, both earned spots on numerous year-end lists, while the former got her on the Hot 100 chart for the first time and the latter was her first top-20 album in the US.
Father: J.J. Abrams (filmmaker)
In recent years, Abrams has become your favorite artist’s favorite artist. She’s joining Taylor Swift on tour in 2023 and she’s previously supported Olivia Rodrigo and The National. This is thanks in part to the strength of her 2021 project This Is What It Feels Like, which features some Aaron Dessner production and was well-received.
Parents: Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke (actors)
Hawke is best known for her breakout role in Stranger Things, but before the show, she was already working on a music career for herself. That’s been going well, too: Her two albums, 2020’s Blush and 2022’s Moss earned some critical praise, which, along with her acting chops, helped establish Hawke as a skilled multi-hyphenate.
Father: Diddy/Sean Combs (rapper, businessman)
Combs has been grinding away at a music career for a few years now and it has really paid off. One of his freestyles previously caught 50 Cent’s attention and just this November, his single “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” topped Mediabase’s Urban Radio chart, actually passing his father Diddy’s Bryson Tiller collaboration “Gotta Move On” to claim the title.
Relatives: father Oliver H. Straus Jr. (recording engineer) and great-grandfather Isidor Straus (US congressman and co-owner of Macy’s)
Nepo baby or not, King Princess has been one of the more notable breakout music stars of the past few years. Her debut single, 2018’s “1950,” has been certified platinum and she’s generally become a critical favorite. She’s even managed to transcend music by appearing as a guest judge on Is It Cake? earlier this year.
Parents: Kathy Najimy and Dan Finnerty (actors + Dan Band leader)
Samia built a strong foundation for herself with her 2020 debut album The Baby: It was one of the year’s best-received projects and it set the table for her upcoming second LP, Honey. Coincidentally, by the way, Samia’s video for The Baby lead single “Is There Something In The Movies” actually featured Maya Hawke.
Parents: Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates (actors)
Cosmos (whose real name is Greta Kline) is an established veteran stemming from the 2010s indie scene, having cemented herself as a mainstay figure through many Bandcamp releases and later a string of proper studio albums. Last year, she continued her string of beloved albums with Inner World Peace.
Parents: Steven Spielberg (director/writer/producer) and Kate Capshaw (actress)
For years now, Lee has been plugging away and really making a name for herself in the music scene with various releases over the past decade. She’s earned herself some big opportunities, too, like working with Nicolas Jaar as Just Friends, collaborating on multiple occasions with Jpegmafia, and opening for Haim on their 2022 tour.
Father: Bono (U2 singer)
While they haven’t broken out in the US quite yet, Inhaler, the band led by Hewson, is a phenomenon overseas: Their debut album, 2021’s It Won’t Always Be Like This, topped the charts in the UK and Ireland. It’s also easy to hear the genealogy in Hewson’s voice and sounding like a young Bono certainly hasn’t hurt, especially with the band’s rock sound that also bears some stylistic similarities to ’80s U2.